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Wooden Mini Yacht 


Make Projects 

build, hack, tweak, share, discover, J 

Wooden Mini Yacht 

Written By: Thomas Martin 


Bastard filed) 

or 4" hand rasp and file 

Eyelet tool (1) 

Gloves (1) 

Hacksaw (1) 

Hammer (1) 
or mallet 

Hand drill (1) 

Jigsaw (1) 
or coping saw 

Needlenose pliers (1) 

Sanding block (1) 

Sandpaper (1) 

Scissors (1) 

or carbon paper to avoid cutting the plan 



for the hull. From a lumber yard, or 
better yet, see if a local fencing 
contractor can sell or give you an off cut. 

Dowel (36" length) 

Wire brad (1) 
for the clew hook 

Screw eye (11) 

Brass strip (1) 

for the masthead crane 

Brass strip (1) 
for the keel 

Masking tape (1) 

Plastic (1) 

cut from the bottom of a milk jug 

Metal eyelets (8) 
aka grommets 

Ripstop nylon (1) 
for sails 

Braided dacron line (6') 

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Wooden Mini Yacht 

for rigging, from a fishing supply store 

Spray paint (1+ cans) 
and/or stain 

Spray polyurethane (1) 

Epoxy (1) 

Cyanoacrylate glue (1) 

aka super glue: or wood glue 


When my son was 3 years old, I made a small bathtub boat with him, using scrap wood and 
a piece of dowel. It lasted much longer and got more of his attention than any dollar-store 
bath toy, and about six years later we decided to try building a larger boat for the pool and 
local ponds we fished. 

Here's the result of our experimentation: a simple and worthy pond sailer that's rigged and 
scaled like a real yacht. You can build it in a weekend using readily available materials and 

It's hard to find waterproof fabric that's easy to cut and won't fray. You can make your own 
by stretching ripstop nylon loosely over a frame or 2 hangers, and spraying it lightly (in a 
well-ventilated area) with polyurethane. 

First spray up and down, and then back and forth, until the fabric is well coated but not 

Let dry overnight. 

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Wooden Mini Yacht 

• Download the project plan from the 
Files section above and print it at 
full size. Following the plan, 
measure and mark the mast, jib 
boom, and mainsail boom lengths 
on the Vi" dowel. Trace the hull 
from the printed pattern onto the 
top and 2 ends of the cedar block; 
cut templates or use carbon paper. 
Draw the keel and masthead crane 
patterns on the brass strips, and 
draw the bowser (rigging clip) 
pattern 8 times on the thin plastic. 

• Cut and drill all the parts. Any fine- 
tooth saw will Make: 57 cut the 
dowel, or you can roll it under an X- 
Acto blade and snap the score. 
Heavy-duty shears or a hacksaw 
will cut the brass; be sure to file 
away the sharp edges afterward. 
You can saw or file down the hull's 
shape, then use a hobby knife or 
thin chisel to excavate the slot for 
the keel. Drill all holes, plus pilot 
holes for the screw eyes (in the 
hull, just poke pilot holes in by 
hand with a thumbtack). 

• Finally, file, sand, and smooth all 
parts. The more time you spend 
here, the better — especially if you 
plan to use a clear finish over the 

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Wooden Mini Yacht 

• On the underside of the hull, mask 
both sides of the keel's slot with 
tape. Wearing gloves, and in a well 
ventilated location, mix and spread 
some 5-minute epoxy into the slot 
using a scrap stick or wooden 

• Slide the keel into position and hold 
it there while the epoxy cures. You 
can square it up using a business 
card on each side. 

• Use a gloved finger to smooth the 
epoxy along the joint line, and fil 
any voids with more epoxy. 

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Wooden Mini Yacht 

• Finish the hull uniformly, or for a 
big-boat look, paint the outside of 
the hull and stain the deck. 

• Sand the hull with 100-grit paper 
over a sanding block, and again 
with 150-grit. Apply a first coat of 
paint or varnish, and re-sand with 
180-grit before each subsequent 

• For a stained deck, first paint the 
hull upside down, then re-sand the 
top perimeter to remove any 
overspray. Rub stain into the deck 
and edge, let dry, and coat with 
varnish or polyurethane. 

• For the mast and boom pieces, 
bevel the cut edges for a more 
finished look, then sand with fine 
grit to remove any fuzz. Stain if 
desired, and cover with at least 2 
coats of varnish or polyurethane 
sealer, sanding lightly between 

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Wooden Mini Yacht 

• Cut a slot in the top of the mast 
and glue in the masthead crane. 
Once that's secure, follow the plan 
to install all screw eyes: 4 to the 
mast, 1 on the fore end of each 
boom, 1 more on the mainsail 
boom (for the boom vang), and 4 to 
the deck. Screw these in until the 
shank of the screw is completely 
into the wood. 

• Insert the brass brad down through 
the hole in the jib boom and bend it 
into a clew hook. 

• Use needle nose pliers to open the 
mainsail boom eye, hook it onto the 
eye on the mast, and close it. This 
forms the gooseneck, the joint that 
lets the boom swing from side to 
side (Figure C, far left). Press the 
mast down into the hole in the deck 
with the masthead crane centered 
afterward, and tap it gently down 
into its hole with a hammer. 

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Wooden Mini Yacht 

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Wooden Mini Yacht 

• After the sail material is dry, trace and cut it to the plan patterns. Lay the boat on its side 
on a hard surface with the masts and booms in place and fit the sails to the areas for 
rigging. For the grommets, cut a small X at each sail corner, insert a grommet up through 
the hole, press the cloth down around it, and tap the grommet flat with the eyelet tool until 
it firmly grips the cloth. 

• NOTE: It's a good idea to practice setting grommets first with a couple of sailcloth 
scraps and extra grommets. It's time for rigging. Knot and cut a short length of 
dacron line, thread it through a bowser, and string the boom vang. For these and all other 
knots, add a tiny drop of cyanoacrylate glue immediately after tying; the line is slippery 
and won't hold knots otherwise. 

• Use 5" lengths of line to tie each sail grommet to its corresponding screw eyelet or drilled 
hole with a square knot. You'll need about 10" for the top of the jib sail, which threads 
through 2 eyelets before tying off to the uphaul bowser. 

• Referring to the plans, tie the 4 lower connections on the booms first, and then add the 
upper lines for tension, so there are no wrinkles in the sails along the booms. Thread a 
bowser onto the jib uphaul as indicated: for their final tensions, you'll adjust the jib using 
the uphaul at the top, and the mainsail using the boom vang. 

• For the backstay, tie in a long length of line at the masthead crane and install a bowser, 
routing the line through the eyelet at the stern. 

• Tighten the backstay and the sails so that they're fairly tight but the mast is not bowed 
forward or aft. Finally, add the 2 lines called sheets. For these, cut two 15" lines. Tie each 
one through the hole in the aft end of a boom, thread it through the sheet eyelet on the 
deck just underneath, then through 2 holes in a bowser, through the other sheet's eyelet, 
and finally through the last hole in the bowser, doubleknotting the line. 

• NOTE: It's important to tie the bowsers exactly as shown on the plan to make them 
work. The sheets let you adjust the angle (trim) of the sails — slack for downwind 
sailing or tight for crosswind — letting you cross a pond or pool in any direction that isn't 
too close to directly upwind. 

This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 20 , page 56. 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -03 03:02:36 AM. 

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